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The Tithe Wars and the 1831 Tithe Defaulters List for Tipperary

 

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The English Parliament required that all landholders and tenants in Ireland would pay a 10% annual Tithe of their land's profits directly to their local parish's Protestant Minister for his support and for the maintenance of his parish church.  This was difficult for the Catholic farmers who also had to support their own church.  The resistance to the tithes increased after the Tithe Applotment of 1826 which in many cases greatly increased the assessed value of their production and therefore the amount of their tithes.  This was fanned by the Anti-Catholic Petitions of 1827 which were promoted by many Protestant landowners and were then presented to the English Parliament.  Several lists of the signers of the petitions were printed in newspapers such as the Tipperary Free Press and The Kilkenny Independant supplying a focus for the anger of their Catholic neighbours.  In 1831 these local reactions grew into larger scale resistance to the tithe collectors and the start of the 'Tithe Wars'.

That June when the Irish Constabulary and Yeomen fired on a large crowd of people in Bunclody (NewtownBarry), Co. Wexford who were trying to prevent the seizure of their cattle in payment for their tithes killing 12 and wounding more than twenty.  In December a much larger group at Carrickshock, co. Kilkenny resisted a detachment of 40 Constabulary killing the Chief Constable and some 12 to 18 constables depending on which newspaper account is accurate.

One government report on the actions taken in 1831 claimed that 242 homicides, 1,179 robberies, 401 burglaries, 568 burnings, 280 cases of cattle-maiming, 161 assaults, 203 riots and 723 attacks on property were directly attributed to seizure order enforcement.

Ultimately the government stopped any attempts to collect tithes and in 1838 ended the tithe payments directly to the Protestant Minister and instead introduced a reduced tax to be paid to their landlord who would then remit it to the support of the church thus bringing an end to the Tithe Wars.

The 1831 Tithe Defaulters List

Each year, although few have survived, a list was made by the Parish minister (the 'memorialist' in the following accounts) of all those from whom his collector was not able to collect that year's tithes.  With the mass refusals to pay tithes in 1830 and the frequency of attacks made upon tithe collectors during the Tithe War, this list has become a valuable record of the times both as a commentary of the events and as a list of a large number of the Catholic population in Ireland.  As no census has survived from that period this list and the Tithe Applotment list of 1826 are two of our best genealogical references during this difficult period immediately prior to the Great Hunger and the mass emigration from Ireland.

The Tithe Defaulters List for Tipperary only includes four Bowles but the comments made by the Minister of each of the four parishes are very interesting.  They were:

George Bowles of Bawnleigh, Kilcooly parish, Barony of Slieveardagh, Tipperary

Parish of Kilcooly, 615 Occupied Houses, Your Memorialist begs leave to state that the arrear of Tithe due for the year 1831 in the Parish of Kilcooly has not accumulated in consequence of any neglect on his part. His agent went there to collect the arrears and no person from the highest to the lowest would admit him into their house in consequence of threatening notices posted up everywhere denouncing anyone who would countenance him or presume to pay any Tithe- with the fear of death before his eyes your Memorialist's Agent resigned his office and from that period to the present moment no person could be found to attempt to collect the Tithe.

These two Bowles were related.

John Bowles of Lower Crohane, Parish of Crohane, Barony of Slieveardagh, Tipperary

Parish of Crohane, 292 occupied houses, Until the autumn of 1831, the Tithe-composition used to be paid with tolerable regularity, the Collector attending to receive it from the parishioners at stated times of meeting. But immediately after the disturbances and outrages on Tithe-matters had occurred in the neighbouring county of Kilkenny, the spirit of determined resistance spread over this Union. A large tumultuous meeting took place at the adjoining parish of Drangan where it was resolved to combine in resistance to the payment either of Tithe or Composition.These resolutions have been firmly acted on. Soon after that meeting your Memorialists Collector went to meet the Parishioners as agreed on, for the purpose of receiving their Composition: he found no one in attendance, but instead, a posted Notice for the Parishioners to pay no tithes until after the meeting of Parliament. This order has been punctually obeyed: for from that time he has not received there one shilling. Both public and private applications of the Collector have proved fruitless: many persons declaring themselves unwilling, and many afraid to pay. And from the general character of the feelings and determination of the people at present, it has been judged impracticable, after so many recent attempts and failures, to apply without imminent danger and with any prospect of success, the ordinary methods of recovery which the existing Laws have provided for the Clergy.

Back to  The Bowles of Bawnlea or The Bowles of Crohane

 

Matthew Bowles of Outragh, Barony of Middlethird, Tipperary

Parish of Outeragh, 79 occupied houses, That Mr John Cusack of Cahir Memorialist's Collector called from time to time on the several persons named in the schedule annexed to demand payment but could not obtain it. That Memorialist himself also applied personally to many of these individuals -to others by letter but in vain. That he caused subpoenas to the Court of Exchequer to be served on Mrs Margaret Doherty and John Doherty Esq but was deterred from following up these proceedings or attempting to distrain by threatening notices placarded in Cahir, by the assemblage of a most numerous meeting for the purpose as Memorialist was informed and believes of combining to resist the payment of Tithes and above all, by the murder of the Rev Mr Whiting in his immediate neighbourhood. That Memorialist therefore resolved to seek redress from His Majesty's Government hoping that his case would be taken into consideration as that of an individual totally deprived of the means of respectable support from himself and his family and submitting to great privations rather than risk the peace of the country by any attempt to enforce payment of his lawful claims.

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Thomas Bowles of Blind Street, St Mary's Clonmel, Barony of Iffa and Offa East, Tipperary

Parish of Clonmel, 1615 occupied houses, That Memorialist has not taken any proceedings for the recovery of the sum due to him and contained in the annexed Schedule further than having caused application to be made for payment to the occupiers of land therein named, and that said application has been ineffectual in consequence of a combination to resist the payment of tithes.That memorialist has been deterred from any law process by the ill effects which he has been informed have arisen in other parishes (where a combination to resist the payment of tithes existed) from attempts to enforce the payment of tithes, which attempts have disturbed the peace of the country and have not restored the Incumbent to his legal rights.Memorialist has been informed and believes that moreover the life of the Collector of Memorialist has been threatened by notice posted on door of a neighbouring chapel if he should take the steps directed by law for the recovery of the sums so due to Memorialist, and that said Collector would have been afraid to distrain the lands, even if he had been directed so to do.

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This site was last updated 10/19/18